The EESC has recently given a favourable assessment of the European Commission guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States, describing them as appropriate since they address the most urgent issues in the labour market.

In an opinion adopted at its plenary session in September, the EESC stressed that the increasingly uncertain geopolitical situation - which is likely to negatively affect the EU economy, cause high inflation and recession and diminish purchasing power - warrants a decisive action from Member States, who should work towards a truly integrated single market and help SMEs scale up.

"Labour shortages are on the rise again and that is why we believe that effective measures should be implemented in order to encourage social partners to work on skills' needs at national level, with action adapted to individual sectors and local situations. Acquisition of relevant skills and competencies is increasingly important for both workers and businesses," Mariya Mincheva, rapporteur for the opinion, told the plenary.

According to the EESC, the social partners should play a bigger role in designing and implementing employment, social and economic reforms and policies, including by building their capacity.

One important challenge is to lower the inactivity rate, and targeted support is especially important for the long-term unemployed, the EESC said in the opinion. The opinion also put a special emphasis on in-work poverty and the need for policy instruments such as decent wages, including adequate minimum wages, and well-designed temporary financial incentives, accompanied by targeted and effective skilling and upskilling measures.

Policies designed to support youth, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in the labour market should be also strengthened.
In 2022, the European Commission has proposed a number of amendments to the employment policies of the Member States. They reflect recent initiatives and add new elements linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The EESC welcomed the Commission's focus on the post-COVID environment aiming to ensure sustainable growth.

The amended guidelines focus on various issues such as boosting the demand for labour; improving access to employment, lifelong acquisition of skills and competences; improving the functioning of labour markets and the effectiveness of social dialogue and promoting equal opportunities for all. (ll)